Tips on Getting Two Puppies and Older Dogs

Two Puppies Twice the Fun or Double the Trouble?

Unfortunately, two puppies usually mean more trouble than fun. They’ll pay more attention to each other than they will to you because they’re dogs and you’re not (Nah, Nah!). A single puppy will figure out ways to bridge the species gap; two puppies won’t bother.

This impedes training, housebreaking, chewing, and overall polite behavior. Your rules are just not as compelling as what the other puppy is doing. If one starts to tear a pillow apart, the other will join in. If one wants to obey but sees the other ignoring you, you’ll be forgotten.

Two Puppies
Two Puppies

Two puppies will often pay more attention to each other than to you. You’ll have to work hard to keep the training on track.

As they grow up, one will be bossier, while the other will be a willing follower. The head honcho will want to take control in all situations, while the follower may show excessive submission and poor coping skills. Both will suffer when separated, often barking, peeing, or chewing until reunited.

At puberty, same-sex pups (especially males) often fight for the Top Dog position. There may be competition for attention, food, or toys. Without behavioral conditioning, their differences could be irreconcilable.

But having two dogs can be a lot of fun for you and for them. So what to do? I suggest training one puppy for the first year and then getting a second. The first puppy will form a bond with you and teach the newcomer house rules and behavior etiquette.

Selecting an Older Dog:

An Older Dog
An Older Dog

Selecting an older dog of any age can be a lot easier. The cute factor has lost its shine. You’re usually testing one dog at a time, instead of twelve. But if you have a bleeding heart like mine, a dog’s individual story can suck you in even though the dog may be unsuited for your lifestyle.

So, to help you keep your head on straight, I’ve written some guidelines and a few tests you can set up if you’re strong enough to let your head lead your heart. Nothing is sadder than rescuing a dog and having to return it because the dog couldn’t cope with your life. Be strong—find out ahead of time by taking the following steps:

  • Do you have kids? Make sure you introduce them to the dog before you bring your dog home.
  • Startle the dog. Toss your keys on the floor. Does the dog fall to pieces or attack them? These are not good signs.
  • If you have an animal menagerie at home, make sure the dog can cope with creature chaos.
  • Ask one of the staff (or the previous owner) to lift the dog. What happens?
  • Bring a soft brush and try to groom the dog while feeding her treats.

Bear in mind, dogs are less accepting of strangers and strange situations than puppies, so allow some room for edginess. But if you see anything more extreme, back off, especially if it’s aggression. Unless you want a major training project, look for a dog who is accepting in each test and shows patience with kids or other animals if they’re a factor.

Note: Sometimes people get purebreds from a breeder or even from a shelter. If you get a dog from a breeder, ask her to transfer your new dog’s registration to your name. If you get a purebred dog from a shelter, you can take pictures of your dog and send them to the American Kennel Club. If they agree, they will offer your dog purebred status and provide you with a registration number. Although you won’t be permitted to show in conformation, this number allows you to show your dog in obedience trials.

The Least You Need To Know:

  • The best age to bring a puppy home is when he is between 8 and 12 weeks old.
  • Buy your puppy from a reputable breeder. If the breeder has more questions for you than you have for him, don’t take it personally! It means he cares.
  • Rescuing a dog or bringing one in off the streets is a truly respectable gesture—just make sure the dog’s personality matches your lifestyle.
  • How a puppy relates to littermates is how she will relate to you!
  • Take time to check out every puppy. Doing little puppy tryouts will give you insight into their personalities.
  • Resist the urge to get two puppies. They’ll bond less to you, focus more on each other, and get into twice as much trouble.
  • If you’re getting an older dog, make sure you “dig up” as much information as you can and put the dog through some test situations to determine whether his personality will mesh with your lifestyle.

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